Lena Dunham quietly shakes up the writing operation on ‘Girls’

Via Writers' Guild of America. ()
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Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO series 'Girls,' has quietly shaken up the writing staff for her breakout comedy-drama about a group of young women making their way in New York.

Season 2 of the show, which has been hailed as a sort of modern-day "Sex and the City" for the striving 20-something set, is airing now with two episodes left to go. It was Dunham's second year working on "Girls" as a product of her own ideas, combined with input from film and television macher Judd Apatow, showrunner Jennie Konner, and a "writers' room," which generated many of the storylines and plot points.

But last fall, before the writers' room would have started gathering to help chart out season 3, Dunham did some house-cleaning: a number of the staff writers were let go, and there haven't been plans to replace them, sources with knowledge of the situation told Capital.

It's possible that Dunham wanted to rely more heavily on contributions from her more high-profile collaborators, such as Paul Simms, who was tapped as co-executive producer earlier this year. Apatow, who has been a mentor to Dunham, holds the title of executive producer, along with Dunham, Konner and Bruce Eric Kaplan.

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"The approach to the third season is identical to our two previous seasons," an HBO spokesperson told Capital when reached for comment. "Our writers this year include Judd Apatow, Jenni Konner, Lena Dunham, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Murray Miller, Paul Simms, Sarah Heyward and, occasionally, Lena’s parents. We are very excited to get started on Season 3."

It's not uncommon for a series creator to clean up shop from one season to the next, even when a show is doing very well. Matthew Weiner of "Mad Men" is known to do it, as is Aaron Sorkin, who made headlines last summer after reportedly firing the majority of writers behind season one of HBO's critically-panned cable news drama, "The Newsroom."

But the staff changing does seem to represent a shift for "Girls." Last spring, one of the show's writers, Deborah Schoeneman, described Dunham's approach to the writer's room in an interview with Capital:

"I think that what Lena and Jenni were interested in were writers who had a lot of real-life experience," said Schoeneman. "They were not interested in a lot of writers who had lots of credits. They were interested in getting a diverse group of people and people who had a lot of life experience, people who were interested in sharing their life experiences, who were oversharers, if you want."

The writers room at the bottom floor of the Apatower (and the constant email and conference-call system in place when they are not gathered together) are "places where people could be very comfortable telling some secret about themselves that would help write the characters," Schoeneman said.

The erstwhile staff writers for "Girls" who are not signed on for Season 3 include Schoeneman, who previously worked as a writer for "90210: The Next Generation" and as a reporter and editor at various publications, including The New York Observer and New York; Lesley Arfin, an author and former columnist for Vice magazine; and Steve Rubinshteyn, Dunham's former assistant.

Dunham is already at work on season 3, which HBO officially picked up in January.

"Girls" was nominated for four Emmys in September for its inaugural season, taking home the award for outstanding casting for a comedy series. It went on to win two Golden Globes earlier this year—for best comedy or musical and best actress (Dunham) in a comedy series—as well as a Writer's Guild of America award for best new series.